Last Updated on May 9, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 531
Arnold Champion-Cheney, a member of Parliament and owner of a country estate, Aston-Adey. About thirty-five years of age, he is tall and good-looking, fair complexioned with a clean-cut and sensitive face. Impeccably dressed, he is an example of the prim and proper upper-class Englishman. Although politics is his career, his primary interest appears to be collecting antique furniture. Although he loves his wife of three years, he lacks passion and has little interest in sex; he has no inkling that he stands on the verge of losing her. As a gentleman, he shows himself capable of generosity but is averse to self-sacrifice.
Elizabeth Champion-Cheney, Arnold’s wife, a charming, pretty woman in her early twenties. Taken for granted by her husband, she is a romantic at heart, idealizing human love relationships. She is truthful, frank, tolerant, and witty, a good hostess. Her husband’s career and enthusiasm for antiques leave her cold.
Clive Champion-Cheney, Arnold’s father, formerly a member of Parliament, now an affluent upper-class Englishman living in retirement. A single man in his early sixties, he is tall with gray hair, dresses carefully, and bears himself with dignity. Highly intelligent, he is a man of the world. His ample wit turns toward the caustic and at times sarcastic. His unexpected arrival at the Champion-Cheney estate creates an awkward situation because the invited guests include Kitty, his former wife. Highly analytical, he essentially is a man of reason rather than emotion.
Lady Catherine (Kitty) Champion-Cheney
Lady Catherine (Kitty) Champion-Cheney, Champion-Cheney, ArnoldArnold’s mother and Clive’s former wife. For thirty years, she has been the mistress of Lord Porteous. She is a gay, small woman with dyed red hair and painted cheeks. She is vain, preoccupied with retaining a youthful appearance. Her mistakes in the play make her appear an object of humor and sympathy, yet she remains a romantic at heart. She is both talkative and sentimental and obviously is dependent on her long-standing relationship with Lord Porteous, whom she seeks to possess.
Lord Porteous, called Hughie, a former member of Parliament and former associate of Clive, normally living in exile with Kitty. A bald, elderly gentleman, he is gruff and somewhat snappish, but underneath a crusty exterior he reveals a sentimental streak. He gave up his chance to be prime minister for the love of Kitty and harbors some bitterness that his life has not turned out well, though he would never express this sentiment.
Edward (Teddie) Luton
Edward (Teddie) Luton, a youthful manager of a rubber plantation in the Federated Malay States. He recently was discharged from the English army, following World War I. He is pleasant, athletic, well-mannered, and ambitious. Desiring a wife to accompany him back to the Far East, he boldly declares his love for his hostess, Elizabeth. His masculine directness and competitive nature contrast with Arnold’s passive and prim character.
Anna Shenstone, a guest at the Champion-Cheney home, a pleasant and elegant woman of forty. She has a small role in the play, serving to focus the dialogue. In partnership with Teddie Luton, she wins at bridge against Kitty and Lord Porteous.